FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Wearing black uniforms but playing as the White team in Arkansas’ annual Red-White basketball game Saturday in Bud Walton Arena, the Razorback freshmen, with a mix of seniors, controlled the game from start to finish in posting a 107-72 victory over the Red.
The White team consisted of UA’s heralded freshman class – Ronnie Brewer, Olu Famutimi, Vincent Hunter and Preston Cranford – along with UA’s only three seniors. Of the seniors, only reserve Jamar Blackmon played last year, seeing action in 13 games. Charles Tatum sat out while recovering from a knee injury and Billy Pharis sat out after transferring from SMU.
The Red team consisted of last year’s sophomore class – Kendrick Davis, Eric Ferguson, Jonathon Modica, Rashard Sullivan and Wen Mukubu, and junior Michael Jones. The Red team featured last year’s top three scorers in Modica, Ferguson and Davis, respectively, and Modica was the top point producer Saturday with 25 points on 12 of 19 shooting, but the White team featured just about everything else.
Brewer hit nine of 13 shots and scored 21 points, but more impressive was his 14 assists with just one turnover in 35 minutes. Hunter made 10 of 11 shots and finished with a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds. Famutimi had 10 points and six rebounds, but he ran the floor well and got six of his points on alley-oop dunks.
“Ronnie takes a lot of pressure off the other guys,” head coach Stan Heath said. “We can run a lot better than last year. He makes plays you don’t necessarily see at first as a casual observer. That’s why we wanted him here. He can take our offense to a different level.
“Vince played well. He looked very comfortable. He got the ball deep and finished.”
The freshmen may have led the way, but they had some help from the upperclassmen. Blackmon made six of nine shots and had 17 points and four assists with no turnovers. Pharis had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Tatum made three of four three-pointers and finished with 12 points.
The White team shot 52.6 percent in the first half and 67.6 percent in the second to finish at 59.7 percent. The White team made 11 of 22 threes, and had 27 assists with just eight turnovers.
The Red team shot 44.9 percent for the game after making 17 of 34 shots in the first half and trailing 52-39 at the break. The Red also had 17 assists with 15 turnovers.
“I’m really pleased with our ball-handling,” Heath said. “Last year, we had 15, 16, 17 or 18 turnovers a game, so both teams did pretty well, but especially the White team. We still have some shortcomings defensively, as well as in free throw shooting, but we cut down on our turnovers. We have a much more skilled team. The main question we have is who is going to score inside.”
The Red team cut a seven-point deficit to 22-19 on a Jones jumper with 10:47 left in the first half, but the White team scored seven straight points for a 10-point margin. A Ferguson dunk closed the gap to 39-34, but a 12-0 run with four points from Pharis pushed the lead to 51-34. Famutimi opened the second half with a dunk off a Brewer pass and the Red team never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.
Jones added 14 points on five of nine shooting, and Davis and Mukubu 10 each for the Red team.
Arkansas plays host to Sports Tours Saturday at 2 p.m. in the first of two exhibition games.